Celtic target Norway striker and Sporting Lisbon star; Ian Durrant tells Rangers rivals to stop sniping at club; contrasting fortunes for Rangers and Celtic’s player budgets, plus all the rest of today’s news and gossip
Celtic targeting Norway striker and Sporting Lisbon star
Two more attacking players have emerged as Celtic targets as Neil Lennon ramps up his bid to improve the squad in the coming months with a reported warchest of £5 million.
Norwegian striker Stefan Johansen, who plays for Stromsgodset, is believed to be in talks about a move in the summer that would cost Celtic around £1.9 million. Aston Villa, Everton, Manchester City and Roma have all been linked with the player.
Sporting Lisbon winger Carlos Mane is also on Celtic’s wishlist, and would be available for around £1 million.
Meanwhile, Celtic have been told they must pay at least £3 million to land Huddersfield Town midfielder Oliver Norwood - double what the club had expected to pay for the Northern Ireland midfielder. (The Sun)
Virgil van Dijk says he won’t leave Celtic
Celtic defender Virgil van Dijk says he is “flattered” to be linked to Arsenal and Manchester City, but says he has no plans to leave Glasgow and is “enjoying” his time at the club.
The Dutchman has reportedly attracted interest from Arsenal and Manchester City, and is on the brink of a call-up to the Dutch national side after a string of impressive performances for Celtic.
Van Dijk said: “I’m flattered that big clubs like those have an interest. I’m enjoying my time at Celtic. The first six months have been amazing. That’s the best word I can use to describe it. Amazing.”
He added: “Everything is good in Glasgow, the people are very nice. Maybe even nicer than Dutch people.” (Daily Express)
Rangers’ Ian Durrant: Stop disrespecting us
Rangers coach Ian Durrant has accused the club’s League One rivals of showing “disrespect” to the club despite their position at the summit of the table. Amid a backdrop of boardroom wrangling and cost-cutting, Rangers have only dropped two points in the league so far this season.
But Durrant, unhappy at the criticism levelled at the club, said: “There has been a little bit of disrespect shown to us but other people should just worry about their own teams rather than worry about Rangers. People are saying things about us which don’t really concern them.”
He added: “Within our dressing room we’ve got strong character and I’d like to place on record that people should stick to their own teams.” (Daily Express)
Ally McCoist will not be forced to sell players - for now
Rangers manager Ally McCoist will not be forced to sell his best players as talks over the club’s budget continue. Chief executive Graham Wallace is expected to drive through a range of cost-cutting measures in order to put the club back on an even keel, but he has not told McCoist to sell big earners such as Lee Wallace and David Templeton, as was previously feared.
McCoist is expected to tell Wallace that should his budget of around £6 million be cut, it may derail the club’s attempt to return to the top flight of Scottish football. (Daily Record)
Blade and Pukki told: grab your chance
Celtic coach Johan Mjallby has handed a lifeline to misfiring strikers Amido Bale and Teemu Pukki - but has told the duo to grab their chance to impress.
The summer signings, who have struggled for regular first team action since moving to Glasgow, will play together in a friendly against Trabzonspor tonight, and Mjallby has urged them to fight their way into Neil Lennon’s plans.
Mjallby said: “It’s not been easy for them to get into the team because of this unbeaten run we’re on. That’s the way it should be at a club like Celtic. But they are here for a reason, so they should look at this as a chance to impress the manager.” (The Sun)
Hearts in fresh transfer embargo bid
Bryan Jackson, of Hearts’ administrators BDO, has said that the club will launch a second bid to have their transfer embargo lifted next week, and a number of players willing to play for a nominal fee are thought to be waiting in the wings.
A first attempt was thrown out by the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) at the tail end of 2013, with the game’s governing body insisting Hearts must endure their punishment for entering administration in the summer. However, Jackson will speak to SPFL secretary Iain Blair on Monday with a view to setting up a formal meeting, in the hope that “the change in circumstances” will prompt a different verdict.
However, Hearts’ league rivals St Mirren, Kilmarnock, Partick Thistle and Ross County have insisted that the embargo must stand, and their opposition may put paid to Hearts’ efforts. (Daily Record, Scotsman)
• Dundee United have signed former Falkirk striker Farid Al Alagui on loan frmo Brentford until the end of the season. He replaces David Goodwillie, who returns to parent club Blackburn next week.
• Atletico Madrid may step up their bid to sign Celtic’s Georgios Samaras by sending out striker Leo Baptistao on loan to free up space for the Greek forward. (The Sun)
• Celtic midfielder Dylan McGeouch is a loan target for Partick Thistle - but they may be usurped by Coventry, who want to sign the 20-year-old on a permanent deal for around £250,000. (Daily Record, The Sun)